A Few Word Origins for Pagan Diviners

What is a Druid?

On the surface, we know Druids as ones who were/are among a certain group of Celtic priests, specific almost solely to the island of Ireland. These sorcerers were known to carry out the sacrifices and were known for their strict means of initiation; comprised of history, science, law, mythology, astronomy, and language. When we take a trip back in time linguistically, we come across the proto-Celtic words daru (oak) and windeti (to know, see), joined in the word druwits meaning “wise person,” or more specifically, “oak knower.” These words stem from earlier forms of the proto-Indo-European words dóru (tree) and weyd (to see), together as dóruweyd, which literally translates to “tree seer” or “tree knower.” As much as the druids were known for their sorcery, a key component of their characteristics lies in their knowledge of trees; their qualities, names and uses. Their writing system was known as Ogham, with each character also representing the name of a tree, hence it also being known as a “tree alphabet.”

What is a Godi?

A godi (goði) is a holy man or priest figure of the old Pagan north; invokers of the gods, custodians and facilitators of the Thing (þing). They were usually identified with jarls, chiefs, and landowners. When searching for origins in this word, we find ourselves first passing through the Gothic gudjô (pagan priest and custodian of temples, responsible for sacrifices) and eventually leading us to the proto-Indo-European ǵʰutós (to pour, libate, invoke). In pre-Christian Germanic culture, one poured libation to gods as sacred offerings, likely a remnant of the Soma ritual from Vedic literature. Godi also has its origin in the Gothic name for Odin as Gaut(az), where we are given an image of one that “flows” or “pours” out. Whether this is the ancient Odinic force of development or the entire population of people “flowing out” of the homeland is not entirely certain in this context. However, we know Odin as the ancient Godi, he who sacrifices himself to himself in a grand system of shamanic self-development. Odin (the operant) pours to his higher form, as the godi pours to Odin within him.

What is a Volva?

In Old Norse we have the term völva meaning prophetess, seeress, witch, wise woman etc. This word specifically relates to woman as opposed to many other terms delegating a person with “magical” ability. This word comes from a root word in proto-Germanic waluz (staff,stick) and an even older proto-Indo-European word welH- (to turn, wind, roll). Here we see an image start to solidify of a female “witch” figure can turn, wind, and roll the webs of fate. The association with a staff or stick can be contributed to “broomsticks” or wands of the classical witch, but in this context, one could assume that this connection alludes to the purported horse phallus preserved in herbs that was said to be consulted by these women for divine prophecy. Regardless, even Odin seeks the wisdom and knowledge of the ancient volva in ‘Völuspá,’ as it is with these primordial beings that cold, ancient, objective forms of knowledge are locked, trapped in their memories and experience of ages past.

Root Words of “Dark” Magic

What is a Necromancer?

Essentially, this title and form of practice revolves around a relationship, exchange, control, or manipulation of the dead. When we break down the word, we are given two root words of proto-Indo-European origin, the first being nek- (to perish, disappear) and the second word méntis (thought, thinking, mind), giving us something like Nekméntis. From these two words, we form an archetype who can think or meditate upon the perished with clarity, someone who can access memory and knowledge from those who have “disappeared.” The Nekméntis is one who can ruminate on death to gain its’ answers and insights, one who can access layers and visions of the past.

What is a Witch?

Witches have been around for as long as humans have experienced the spirit world. The word has carried itself through time on the backs of different cultures and connotations. In Old English, we have the words wiċċe and wiċċa, meaning female and male seers, magicians, or sorcerers. In proto-Germanic, we have wikkô, meaning spellcaster, wizard, warlock, etc. These stem from an earlier proto-Indo-European pair of words wey (to contain, consecrate, separate, overcome) and weyk (to separate, choose). Here we can see the witch archetype as one who can separate things (in the way an alchemist, chemist, or scientist does), choose “ingredients” wisely based on necessity, and consecrate specific items using an array of techniques and formulas. The witch chooses and manipulates its’ own fate and the fates of those around it through prophecy, trance, and divination. It can instill great meaning and power into objects, materials, and places that it wants to sanctify. The witch also overcomes human “conditions” using sorcery, sacrifice, and methods of hallowing. In this sense, a prophetic, gnostic, and divine awareness must be embodied within those who we refer to as witches, as they must have true skill in making choices that alter the very fabric of the web of fate.

What is a Warlock?

Much of what encompasses a warlock is also embodied in the witch, it’s merely a preference of words in the modern age, as the “witch” has become associated mostly with women. However, our root words here differ and bring us an alternative view of a warlock as opposed to a mere mirror image or male incarnation of a witch. At the root we have two words of proto-Indo-European origin, the first weh₁- (true) and second lewgʰ- (to lie, tell a lie). At first this seems a bit strange, but, as most titles like this, we see a union or embracing of opposites, the creation of an oxymoron. It is safe to say that a warlock is not only a magician, but one who can manipulate the truth as he sees fit; a master of words who can manipulate minds for better or for worse.